Review: Troon North Golf Courses, AZ

The best desert golf AZ has to offer
Over the past 10 years the “Best Public Course” lists for the US have included Troon North.  Troon North also tops the list for AZ courses.  The Monument and the Pinnacle are the standard by which all other desert courses are judged.  The 36 holes that sit at the north end of Scottsdale, AZ are some of the finest golf in the country.
Troon North was orginaly designed by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish.  However, just a year ago, the courses were rerouted and mixed up a bit to offer a better flow of play.  Having played Troon North a few of years back, I think the reroute makes sense and is an improvement on the overall feel of the 2 courses.

As we made our trek north to the course, we pull up to the southwest style clubhouse and restaurant where we were greeted at the bag drop by a young fellow to help with getting our bags from the car to the golf cart.  After we get checked in, we met up with the starter and headed right on out to the first tee, we didn’t quite get as early as a start as we wanted to, in order to take full advantage of the range and putting green.  We hop in our carts, and follow the starter through the tunnel in the clubhouse and across the street to the 1st hole of the Monument.  He gave us a couple of quick instructions, a scorecard and a yardage book and away we went.

Troon North is second to none when it comes to layout, landscaping and true desert golf.  Each hole presented a unique layout, leaving no two holes feeling the same.  It also had everything you would expect from a Troon Managed course; flat, clean tee-boxes, lush, green, tight fairways and smooth green complexes. I was a little surprised by the number of brown ball-marks on the green. There were numerous dead spots on almost every green.  These marks did not affect the roll of the ball on the green, but did look a little off.

The “new” Monument takes the original front 9 and adds the “old” Pinnacle front 9 to create 18 holes.  The variety of shots required on the Monument really made you think on each hole.  Most par 4’s were driver holes, a couple of holes were drivable, and a couple needed all the length off the tee to reach in two.  The par 3’s are visually stunning.  I can’t say they were overly difficult, but nonetheless they were beautiful holes.  The par 5 3rd hole,” the Monument” is a great dog leg right.  If played on the gutsy side, it is reachable in two.  The safer route makes this a clear three shot hole.  The “new” back nine seemed to play up hill on 6 of the 9 holes.  The downhill holes were the par 3’s and the last par 4 coming home.  Much of the elevation drop was done by cart path rather than playing it.  Hole 15 might be my favorite hole of all 36.  It is a short, drivable par 4.  It plays just the slightest bit uphill, but the green is cut into a rock valley that looks to be on the edge of cliff as you look into the north.

Between our first 18 on the Monument and our second 18 scheduled for the Pinnacle, we grabbed a bite to eat from the snack shop.  We took our food up stairs to the patio that overlooked the 18 of the Pinnacle and the putting green and driving range.  Once we coerced the starter to break away from his buddies he helped us find our way to our second 18 on the “new” Pinnacle.

The overall layout of these 18 holes felt so much better than last time.  They seemed to flow seamlessly from one hole to the next for all 18.  The reroute was especially kind to the Pinnacle.  The Pinnacle feels a little more wide open, and more generous with landing zones and bailout areas off the tee or approach shots.  Again we found a great variety of holes, long, short and mid-length par 4s, beautiful tough par 3s, and some long demanding par 5’s.  The 10th hole, “the Pinnacle” is a great little up and down par 4.  The stone pinnacle in the distance adds beauty to this tricky little hole.  You couldn’t even tell that a reroute had taken place, the flow was perfect.  There was the great little up-hill, mid/long par 3, hole number 12 “the Saguaro” with beautiful Saguaro cacti to greet us upon arrival at the green.  The other par 3 of the back, hole number 16 is a short little “postage stamp” over water.  Make sure you study this green carefully; missing the cup by an inch could mean a 25-foot comeback putt.

The 36 holes at Troon North are second to none.  The desert scenery, the mountain back drops, the impeccable conditions and the tough layout makes for two excellent golf courses.  Discounts can be found year round through Troon North’s website.  So even during the winter you don’t have to break the bank to play the best of AZ.  If you make your golf destination Phoenix, AZ you should also make time to play the best it has to offer at Troon North.

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